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Publication numberUS7712326 B2
Publication typeGrant
Application numberUS 11/532,257
Publication dateMay 11, 2010
Filing dateSep 15, 2006
Priority dateSep 15, 2005
Fee statusPaid
Also published asEP1924807A1, EP1924807B1, US20070068160, WO2007035487A1, WO2007035487B1
Publication number11532257, 532257, US 7712326 B2, US 7712326B2, US-B2-7712326, US7712326 B2, US7712326B2
InventorsTadeusz Frank Jagusztyn, Donald James Hay, Don Franklin Murphy
Original AssigneeCotherm Of America Corporation
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Energy transfer system and associated methods
US 7712326 B2
Abstract
An energy transfer system includes an energy transfer device, a water inlet pipe and a water outlet pipe. The water inlet pipe may be connected to a water inlet of the transfer device to extract water from a water source. The water outlet pipe may be connected to a water outlet on the energy transfer device to discharge water to the water source. The water inlet pipe may extract water from a predetermined extraction depth, and the water outlet pipe may discharge water into the water source at a predetermined discharge depth.
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Claims(38)
1. An energy transfer system comprising:
an energy transfer device including at least one water inlet and a water outlet, said energy transfer device being positioned adjacent a structure, and spaced-apart from a water source, the water source having a sidewall;
at least one water inlet pipe having a first end connected to the water inlet and a second end opposite the first end in communication with the water source, said at least one water inlet pipe extending within a respective at least one horizontally directionally drilled inlet passageway from the water source to the at least one water inlet, wherein the respective at least one horizontally directionally drilled inlet passageway extends through the sidewall of the water source; and
a water outlet pipe having a first end connected to the water outlet and a second end opposite the first end in communication with the water source, said water outlet pipe extending within a horizontally directionally drilled outlet passageway from the water outlet to the water source, wherein the horizontally directionally drilled outlet passageway extends through the sidewall of the water source;
wherein said at least one water inlet pipe is used to extract water from the water source and transport the water to said energy transfer device, and wherein said water outlet pipe is used to discharge water from the energy transfer device to the water source;
wherein said second end of said at least one water inlet pipe extracts water from the water source at a respective at least one predetermined extraction depth, and the second end of said water outlet pipe discharges water into the water source at a predetermined discharge depth; and
wherein at least one of the horizontally directionally drilled passageways extends through the sidewall of the water source at a depth of at least 80 meters below a surface of the water source.
2. An energy transfer system according to claim 1 wherein the respective at least one predetermined extraction depth is greater than the predetermined discharge depth.
3. An energy transfer system according to claim 1 wherein the respective at least one predetermined extraction depth is between 100 and 1200 meters.
4. An energy transfer system according to claim 1 wherein the respective at least one predetermined extraction depth is within an aphotic zone of the water source.
5. An energy transfer system according to claim 1 wherein the water extracted from the respective at least one predetermined extraction depth of the water source is at a temperature between 3 and 20 degrees Celsius.
6. An energy transfer system according to claim 1 wherein the predetermined discharge depth is within the photic zone of the water source.
7. An energy transfer system according to claim 1 wherein said at least one water inlet pipe comprises a first water inlet pipe and a second water inlet pipe.
8. An energy transfer system according to claim 7 wherein said first water inlet pipe has a first end connected to said energy transfer device, and a second end in communication with the water source at a first predetermined extraction depth, and wherein said second water inlet pipe has a first end connected to said energy transfer device, and a second end in communication with the water source at a second predetermined extraction depth.
9. An energy transfer system according to claim 8 wherein the first predetermined extraction depth is greater than the second predetermined extraction depth.
10. An energy transfer system according to claim 8 wherein the first predetermined extraction depth is in an aphotic zone of the water source to extract cold water from the water source, and wherein the second predetermined extraction depth is in the photic zone of the water source to extract warm water from the water source.
11. An energy transfer system according to claim 10 wherein the cold water extracted from the water source is used by said energy transfer device to cool the adjacent structure.
12. An energy transfer system according to claim 10 wherein the warm water extracted from the water source is used by said energy transfer device to provide heat to the adjacent structure.
13. An energy transfer system according to claim 1 further comprising a desalination device in communication with said energy transfer device to desalinate the water extracted from the water source.
14. An energy transfer system according to claim 13 wherein said desalination device discharges mineral water.
15. An energy transfer system according to claim 14 further comprising a water storage device for storing the mineral water.
16. An energy transfer system according to claim 1 wherein said energy transfer device comprises at least one of a heat exchanger and a power generator.
17. An energy transfer system according to claim 1 further comprising at least one of a pump and an air compressor in communication with said at least one water inlet pipe.
18. An energy transfer system comprising:
an energy transfer device including first and second water inlets and a water outlet, said energy transfer device being positioned adjacent a structure, and spaced apart from a water source, the water source having a sidewall;
a first water inlet pipe having a first end connected to the first water inlet and a second end opposite the first end in communication with the water source, said first water inlet pipe extending within a first horizontally directionally drilled inlet passageway from the water source to the first water inlet, wherein the first horizontally directionally drilled inlet passageway extends through the sidewall of the water source;
a second water inlet pipe having a first end connected to the second water inlet and a second end opposite the first end in communication with the water source, said second water inlet pipe extending within a second horizontally directionally drilled inlet passageway from the water source to the second water inlet, wherein the second horizontally directionally drilled inlet passageway extends through the sidewall of the water source; and
a water outlet pipe having a first end connected to the water outlet and a second end opposite the first end in communication with the water source, said water outlet pipe extending within a horizontally directionally drilled outlet passageway from the water outlet to the water source, wherein the horizontally directionally drilled outlet passageway extends through the sidewall of the water source;
wherein said first water inlet pipe extracts water from the water source at a first predetermined extraction depth, and wherein said second water inlet pipe extracts water from the water source at a second predetermined extraction depth, and wherein said water outlet pipe discharges water to the water source at a predetermined discharge depth;
wherein the first predetermined extraction depth is greater than the predetermined discharge depth and the second predetermined extraction depth; and
wherein at least one of the horizontally directionally drilled passageways extends through the sidewall of the water source at a depth of at least 80 meters below a surface of the water source.
19. An energy transfer system according to claim 18 wherein the first predetermined extraction depth is between 10 and 250 meters.
20. An energy transfer system according to claim 18 wherein the first predetermined extraction depth is within the aphotic zone of the water source.
21. An energy transfer system according to claim 18 wherein the water extracted from the first predetermined extraction depth of the water source is between 3 and 15 degrees Celsius.
22. An energy transfer system according to claim 18 wherein the predetermined discharge depth is within a photic zone of the water source.
23. An energy transfer system according to claim 18 wherein the predetermined discharge depth and the second predetermined extraction depth are substantially similar.
24. An energy transfer system according to claim 18 wherein the first predetermined extraction depth is in an aphotic zone of the water source to extract cold water from the water source; and wherein the cold water extracted from the water source is used by said energy transfer device to cool the adjacent structure.
25. An energy transfer system according to claim 18 wherein said second predetermined extraction depth is in the photic zone of the water source to extract warm water from the water source; and wherein the warm water extracted from the water source is used by said energy transfer device to heat the adjacent structure.
26. An energy transfer system according to claim 18 further comprising a desalination device in communication with said energy transfer device to desalinate the water extracted from the water source; wherein said desalination device discharges mineral water; and further comprising a water storage device for storing the mineral water.
27. An energy transfer system according to claim 18 wherein said energy transfer device comprises at least one of a heat exchanger and a power generator.
28. An energy transfer system according to claim 18 further comprising at least one pump in communication with the first and second water inlet pipes.
29. A method for using an energy transfer system comprising:
positioning an energy transfer device adjacent a structure, the energy transfer device including at least one water outlet and a water inlet;
extending at least one water inlet pipe through a respective at least one horizontally directionally drilled inlet passageway from a water source spaced apart from the energy transfer device to the at least one water inlet, wherein the respective at least one horizontally directionally drilled inlet passageway extends through a sidewall of the water source;
extending a water outlet pipe through a horizontally directionally drilled outlet passageway from the water outlet to the water source, wherein the horizontally directionally drilled outlet passageway extends through the sidewall of the water source; and
extracting water using the at least one water inlet pipe from a respective at least one predetermined extraction depth, and discharging water into the water source using the water outlet pipe at a predetermined discharge depth;
wherein at least one of the horizontally directionally drilled passageways extends through the sidewall of the water source at a depth of at least 80 meters below a surface of the water source.
30. A method according to claim 29 wherein the respective at least one predetermined extraction depth is greater than the predetermined discharge depth.
31. A method according to claim 29 wherein the respective at least one predetermined extraction depth is between 10 and 250 meters.
32. A method according to claim 29 wherein the respective at least one predetermined extraction depth is within an aphotic zone of the water source; and wherein the discharge depth is within a photic zone of the water source.
33. A method according to claim 29 wherein the water extracted from the respective at least one predetermined extraction depth of the water source is between 3 and 15 degrees Celsius.
34. A method according to claim 29 wherein extending the at least one water inlet pipe further comprises extending a first water inlet pipe within a first horizontally directionally drilled passageway form a first water inlet to the water source, and extending a second water inlet pipe within a second horizontally directionally drilled passageway from the water source to a second water inlet.
35. A method according to claim 34 wherein extracting water further comprises extracting water from a first predetermined extraction depth using the first water inlet pipe and extracting water from a second predetermined extraction depth using the second water inlet pipe; and wherein the first predetermined extraction depth is in an aphotic zone of the water source to extract cold water from the water source, and the second extraction depth is in a photic zone of the water source to extract warm water from the water source.
36. A method according to claim 35 wherein the cold water extracted from the water source is used by the energy transfer device to cool the adjacent structure, and wherein the warm water extracted from the water source is used by the energy transfer device to heat the adjacent structure.
37. A method according to claim 29 further comprising desalinating the water extracted from the water source, discharging mineral water, and storing the mineral water in a storage device.
38. A method according to claim 29 wherein the energy transfer device comprises at least one of a heat exchanger and a power generator.
Description
RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/717,506, filed on Sep. 15, 2005, and is related to U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/532,287, titled Power Generation System and Associated Methods filed simultaneously herewith by the inventors of the present application, the contents of both of which are incorporated herein by reference in their entireties.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to the field of energy transfer and, more particularly, to the field of using temperature difference in a water source to transfer energy.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Energy transfer systems that utilize temperature differences of adjacent water sources are known. These systems generally extract water from various depths of adjacent water sources to be used in heat exchange applications and power generation applications. The systems typically include pipes that are assembled above ground, and that must be carefully sunk into a water source, generally from a barge, for example. This type of installation, however, is highly labor-intensive and costly.

Pipes, such as those referenced above are also normally exposed within the water source and, accordingly, are at risk for being damaged by forces of nature, e.g., earthquakes, hurricanes, or violent currents. Installation of such pipes also generally requires disturbing the shore line. In other words, to extend such a pipe from the shore line to the adjacent structure, trenches are usually dug to bury the pipes. The exposure of these pipes to the water source disadvantageously decreases the life cycle of the pipes.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In view of the foregoing background, it is therefore an object of the present invention to provide an energy transfer system that utilizes water from a water source at various depths to advantageously provide services to an adjacent structure. It is also an object of the present invention to access water from a water source at various depths using horizontal directional drilling.

These and other objects, features, and advantages of the present invention are provided by an energy transfer system comprising an energy transfer device. The energy transfer device may include a water inlet and a water outlet, and may be positioned adjacent a structure, and spaced apart from a water source.

The energy transfer system may also include a water inlet pipe having a first end connected to the water inlet, and a second end in communication with the water source. The water inlet pipe extends within a horizontally directionally drilled passageway from the water source to the water inlet.

The energy transfer system may also include a water outlet pipe having a first end connected to the water outlet and a second end in communication with the water source. The water outlet pipe preferably extends within a horizontally directionally drilled passageway from the water outlet to the water source. Alternately, the water outlet pipe may be used to discharge water from the energy transfer device to the water source.

The second end of the water inlet pipe may extract water from the water source at a predetermined extraction depth. The second end of the water outlet pipe discharges water into the water source at a predetermined discharge depth.

The extraction depth is preferably greater than the discharge depth. More specifically, the predetermined extraction depth is preferably between 100 and 1200 meters deep. Further, the predetermined extraction depth may be within an aphotic zone of the water source. Therefore, the water that is extracted from the predetermined extraction depth is preferably between 3 and 20 degrees Celsius. A predetermined discharge depth is preferably within the photic zone of the water source.

In some embodiments, the water inlet pipe may comprise a first water inlet pipe and a second water inlet pipe. Both the first and second water inlet pipes may include first ends connected to the energy transfer device and second ends in communication with the water source. Further, the second end of the first water inlet pipe may extract water from a first predetermined extraction depth, and the second end of the second water inlet pipe may extract water from a second predetermined extraction depth. The first predetermined extraction depth is preferably greater than the second predetermined extraction depth. More specifically, the first predetermined extraction depth may be within the aphotic zone of the water source to extract cold water from the water source, while the second predetermined extraction depth may be within the photic zone of the water source to extract warm water from the water source.

The cold water extracted from the water source may be used by the energy transfer device to cool the adjacent structure. The warm water extracted from the water source may be used by the energy transfer device to provide heat to the adjacent structure.

The energy transfer system may also comprise a desalination device in communication with the energy transfer device. The desalination device may be used to desalinate the water extracted from the water source. The desalination device may discharge mineral water. The energy transfer system may also comprise a water storage device for storing the mineral water.

The energy transfer device may advantageously comprise a heat exchanger. Accordingly, the temperature difference of water extracted from and discharged to the water source may advantageously be used to both heat and cool the adjacent structure. Further, the energy transfer device may comprise a power generator. Again, the temperature difference between the water extracted from and discharged to the water source may be used to advantageously generate power to be provided to the adjacent structure. The energy transfer system may also include a pump or air compressor in communication with the water inlet pipe to mechanically extract water from the water source.

A method aspect for the present invention is for using an energy transfer system. The method may include positioning an energy transfer device adjacent a structure, extending a water inlet pipe through a horizontally directionally drilled passageway from a water source to the energy transfer device, and extending a water outlet pipe through a horizontally directionally drilled passageway from a water outlet to the water source.

The method may further include extracting water using the water inlet pipe from a predetermined extraction depth, and discharging water into the water source using the water outlet pipe at a predetermined discharge depth.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a schematic view of an energy transfer system according to the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a more detailed schematic view of a first embodiment of the energy transfer system shown in FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is a more detailed schematic view of another embodiment of the energy transfer system shown in FIG. 1.

FIG. 4 is a schematic view of a power generation system according to the present invention.

FIG. 5 is a schematic view of the power generation system illustrated in FIG. 4 and showing greater detail of the fluid warming device.

FIG. 6 is a cross-sectional view of the fluid warming device taken through line 6-6 of FIG. 5.

FIG. 7 is a cross-sectional view of the fluid warming device taken through line 7-7 of FIG. 5.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

The present invention will now be described more fully hereinafter with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which preferred embodiments of the invention are shown. This invention may, however, be embodied in many different forms and should not be construed as limited to the embodiments set forth herein. Rather, these embodiments are provided so that this disclosure will be thorough and complete, and will fully convey the scope of the invention to those skilled in the art. Like numbers refer to like elements throughout.

Referring to FIGS. 1-3, an energy transfer system 10 according to the present invention is now described in greater detail. The energy transfer system illustratively includes an energy transfer device 12. The energy transfer device 12 includes water inlets 14, and a water outlet 16. Although one water outlet 16 is illustrated in the appended drawings, those skilled in the art will appreciate that any number of water outlets may be provided for the energy transfer device 12.

The energy transfer device 12 is positioned adjacent a structure 18, and spaced apart from a water source 20. The structure 18 may, for example, be a hotel, or any other type of structure suitable for serving many people. The water source 20 may, for example, be a lake, an ocean, or any other body of water as understood by those skilled in the art. The present invention contemplates that the water source 20 may be close to the structure 18, i.e., less than one mile away, i.e., between one and ten miles away.

The energy transfer system 10 also includes a first water inlet pipe 22 and a second water inlet pipe 24. The first and second water inlet pipes 22, 24 each include a first end 26 connected to the water inlet 14, and a second end 28 opposite the first end and in communication with the water source 20.

The first and second water inlet pipes 24, extend within respective horizontally directionally drilled passageways 30 from the water source 20 to the water inlets 14. Horizontal directional drilling, sometimes called trenchless technology, is well known in the fields of oil and natural gas extraction. See, e.g., U.S. Pat. No. 3,878,903 to Cherrington. Extended-reach drilling, which is a subset of Horizontal directional drilling, is similarly known. For ease of illustration, the horizontally directionally drilled passageways 30 are illustrated as extending downwardly from the energy transfer device 12 and outwardly through the adjacent soil to the water source 20. Those skilled in the art will appreciate, however, that generally, horizontally directionally drilled passageways will not include the vertical drop illustrated in FIGS. 1-3. Instead, it is preferable for the horizontally directionally drilled passageways 30 of the present invention to extend in a substantially horizontal direction outwardly from the structure 18 through the soil and to the water source 20.

The energy transfer system 10 also preferably includes a water outlet pipe having a first end 34 connected to the water outlet 16, and a second end 36 opposite the first end and in communication with the water source 20. Although one water outlet pipe 32 is illustrated in the appended drawings, those skilled in the art will appreciate that a plurality of water outlet pipes may be used to achieve the objects of the present invention. The water outlet pipe 32 extends within a horizontally directionally drilled passageway 30 from the water outlet 16 to the water source 20.

The first and second water inlet pipes 22, 24 are used to extract water from the water source 20 and transport the water to the energy transfer device 12. The water outlet pipe 32 may be used to discharge water from the energy transfer device 12 to the water source 20.

The first and second water inlet pipes 22, 24 extract water from the water source 20 at first and second predetermined extraction depths. The second end 36 of the water outlet pipe 32 discharges water into the water source 20 at a predetermined discharge depth. The extraction depth of the second end 28 of the first water inlet pipe 22 is preferably greater than the discharge depth of the second end 36 of the water outlet pipe 32.

More particularly, the extraction depth of the water extracted by the first water inlet pipe 22 is preferably between about 100 and 1200 meters. Further, the depth of the water extracted by the first water inlet pipe 22 is preferably within the aphotic zone of the water source 20. In other words, it is at a depth within the water source 20 where sunlight does not penetrate. Such water is preferably between the temperatures of approximately 3 and 20 degrees Celsius.

The predetermined extraction depth of the second end 28 of the second water inlet pipe 24 is preferably less than the predetermined extraction depth of the second end 28 of the first water inlet pipe 22. More specifically, the second predetermined extraction depth of the water being extracted by the second water inlet pipe 24 may be in the photic zone of the water source 20 to extract warm water therefrom. In other words, the extraction depth of the water being extracted by the second water inlet pipe 24 is preferably at a depth in the water where sunlight penetrates therethrough.

Accordingly, water extracted by the first water inlet pipe 22 is cooler than water extracted by the second water inlet pipe 24. Accordingly, cool water extracted from the water source 20 by the first water inlet pipe 22 may be used by the energy transfer device 12 to cool the adjacent structure 18. Further, warm water extracted from the water source 20 by the second water inlet pipe 24 may be used by the energy transfer device 12 to provide heat to the adjacent structure 18.

The discharge depth of the water being extracted into the water source 20 by the water outlet pipe 32 is preferably within the photic zone of the water source. Water being discharged into the water source 20 by the water outlet pipe 32 is water that has been used by the energy transfer device 12, and is suitable for discharge back to the water source. In other words, such water is not contaminated or polluted, but rather is suitable for discharge to the water source 20.

The first and second water inlet pipes 22, 24 and the water outlet pipe 32 are preferably provided by high strength piping. For example, the pipes preferably comprise ductile iron material. Those skilled in the art will appreciate that these pipes may be provided by other materials as well.

The energy transfer system 10 may also include a desalination device 40 in communication with the energy transfer device 12. The desalination device 40 desalinates water extracted from the water source 20. Of course, in cases where the water source is a fresh water source, e.g., a lake or a pond, such a desalination device 40 is not applicable. Mineral water may be discharged by the desalination device 40 as a by-product of the desalination process.

The energy transfer system 10 may also include a water storage device 42 in communication with the desalination device 40. More specifically, the water storage device 42, e.g., a water storage tank or a water pond, may be used to store the mineral water that is discharged from the desalination device 40 as the by-product of the desalination process. The mineral water may advantageously be provided to the structure, e.g., the hotel, for use by its occupants. Those having skill in the art will appreciate that mineral water is quite desirable for health purposes. Further, the mineral water may be bottled, and separately sold as desired. Similarly, water extracted by the first water inlet pipe 22, i.e., aphotic water, may also be bottled and sold as desired, as aphotic water is also mineral rich. As illustrated in FIG. 2, water may also be discharged from the desalination device 40 back into the outlet pipe 32 and into the water source 20.

Those skilled in the art will appreciate that the energy transfer system 10 of the present invention may include a plurality of storage tanks. For example, the energy transfer system 10 may include a storage tank for photic water extracted from the water source 20 by the second water inlet pipe 24. Further, the energy transfer system 10 may also include a discharge water storage tank to regulate the temperature of water before being discharged into the water source 20.

As discussed in detail above, water being discharged into the water source 20 by the water outlet pipe 32 is suitable for discharge into the water source 20. The present invention also contemplates discharging aphotic water into the photic zone of the water source 20. The mineral rich properties of the aphotic water promote sea life. Accordingly, the present invention contemplates discharging aphotic water into the photic zone of the water source 20 to advantageously enhance the growth of the sea life within the photic zone.

The energy transfer device 12 may comprise a power generator 44, as illustrated in FIG. 2, or a heat exchanger 46, as illustrated in FIG. 3. In the case of the power generator 44, the energy transfer device 12 preferably uses the temperature differences between the water extracted from the water source 20 by the first water inlet pipe 22 and the water extracted from the water source by the second water inlet pipe 24 to generate power. In the case of the heat exchanger 46, the energy transfer device 12 also advantageously uses the temperature difference of the water extracted from the water source to heat and cool the adjacent structure 18. The heat exchanger 46 may also be used in air conditioning applications, hot water applications, as well as many other applications as understood by those skilled in the art.

The present invention may also include a condenser feature wherein cool water extracted by the first water inlet pipe 22 from the water source 20 may be used to condense water from the surrounding air. The water condensed from the surrounding air may be captured in a storage device and later used for drinking water. This also advantageously assists to control humidity within the structure 18. Further, water may be condensed from the cool water extracted by the first water inlet pipe 22 by exposing the cool water to heat that is released from the air conditioning system. Again, the condensed water may be captured and retained to be used as drinking water.

The energy transfer system 10 may also comprise a pump 48 or an air compressor 50 in communication with the first and second water inlet pipes 22, 24. More specifically, the pump provides mechanical energy to extract water from the water source 20 using the first and second water inlet pipes 22, 24. Alternately, an air compressor 50 may provide an air lift system to extract water from the water source 20 using the first and second water inlet pipes 22, 24.

The energy transfer system 10 of the present invention advantageously reduces energy production costs, as well as pollution, while simultaneously enhancing generating electricity and providing heating and warming capabilities to an adjacent structure. Further, the energy transfer system 10 of the present invention is environmentally friendly as it uses an energy source that is readily renewable, i.e., aphotic water.

A method aspect of the present invention is for using an energy transfer system 10. The method may comprise positioning an energy transfer device 12 adjacent a structure 18. The method may also comprise extending a water inlet pipe 22 through a horizontally directionally drilled passageway 30 from the water source 20 to the energy transfer device 12. The method may further include extending a water outlet pipe 32 from the energy transfer device to the water source 20 through a horizontally directionally drilled passageway 30. The method may still further comprise extracting water using the water inlet pipe 22 from a predetermined extraction depth, and discharging water into the water source 20.

Referring now additionally to FIGS. 2 and 4-6, a power generation system 52 is now described in greater detail. The power generation system 52 illustratively includes a turbine 54 and a fluid warming device 56 in communication with the turbine for warming a fluid to a predetermined temperature. The warmed fluid is preferably used to rotate the turbine 54 to thereby generate electricity to be provided to the adjacent structure 18.

The fluid warming device 56 includes a housing 58. The housing preferably includes an inlet 60, and an outlet 62 formed through sidewalls of the housing. The housing is preferably made of sheet metal material, but those skilled in the art will appreciate that the housing can be made of any other material having similar properties. The fluid warming device 56 may also include an inlet pipe 64 extending from the inlet 60 substantially the length of the housing 58. The fluid warming device 56 may further include an outlet pipe 66 extending from the outlet 62 substantially the length of the housing 58.

The fluid warming device 56 also illustratively includes a plurality of solar collection members 68 carried by the housing 58 between the inlet pipe 64 and the outlet pipe 66. Each of the plurality of solar collection members 68 comprise a plurality of channels 70 to carry the fluid. The inlet pipe 64, the plurality of solar collection members 68, and the outlet pipe 66 are preferably in fluid communication with one another.

Solar collection members 68 are preferably made of aluminum or titanium. Those skilled in the art will appreciate that the solar collection members 68 may be made of any other type of material having similar lightweight properties. The present invention also contemplates the use of polymer material, such as a polycarbonate, to form the solar collection members 68. The polycarbonate material is preferably a dark color to enhance heat absorption properties. Those skilled in the art will appreciate that the solar collection members may also comprise both a clear and a dark material to further enhance the heat absorption properties.

The fluid warming device may also include a cover 72 positioned to overly the plurality of solar collection members 68. The cover 72 is preferably made of a resin material. More specifically, the cover 72 may be a transparent converter provided under the tradename Lexan®. The fluid warming device 56 may comprise a pump 74 in communication with the inlet 60 to pump the fluid through the plurality of solar collection members 68.

The channels 70 of each of the solar collection members 68 may be micro-channels or nano-channels. Micro-channels are preferably defined as having a width (depicted as “W” in FIG. 6) greater than one micron. Nano-channels are preferably defined as having a width W of less than one micron. The small width W of the channels 70 of the solar collection members 68 advantageously enhance heat absorption of the fluid as it passes through the solar collection members. Accordingly, the fluid warming device 56 of the present invention greatly decreases the amount of energy necessary to rotate a turbine 54 in a power generation system 52.

The fluid warming device 56 may also comprise a plurality of brackets 86 and fasteners 76 connected to the sidewall of the housing 68 for fastening the cover 72 to an upper portion of the housing. The brackets 86 may, for example, be L-shaped brackets, or any other type of suitable bracket. The fasteners 76 may, for example, be pop rivets. Those having skill in the art, however, will appreciate that the fasteners 76 may be provided by any other type of fastener suitable for securing the cover 72 to an upper portion of the housing 58.

As perhaps best illustrated in FIGS. 6 and 7, the fluid warming device 56 comprises insulation 78 between a top portion of the plurality of solar collection members 68 and a bottom portion of the cover 72. The insulation 78 may, for example, be air, or any other suitable insulation as understood by those skilled in the art.

The fluid warming device 56 may also include insulation 80 between a bottom portion of the plurality of solar collection members 68 and a bottom portion of the housing 58. The insulation 80 positioned below the solar collection members 68 may, for example, be provided by a polyurethane material, or any other similar material as understood by those skilled in the art. A seal 82 may be provided between the cover 72 and the housing 58. The seal 82 may, for example, be provided by weather stripping, or any other material suitable for forming a seal between the cover 72 and the housing 58. The seal 82 advantageously enhances the efficiency of the fluid warming device 56, resulting in enhanced energy savings by the power generation system 52.

The fluid used in the fluid warming device 56 is preferably a refrigerant. For example, propane may be used as a fluid in the fluid warming device 56, or any other similar refrigerant as understood by those skilled in the art. The fluid warming device 56 preferably utilizes a closed fluid system, i.e., there is no loss of fluid during use of the fluid warming device. As illustrated, for example, in FIG. 2, fluid storage 84 may be provided to store fluid used by the fluid warming device 56. The fluid storage 84 may, for example, be provided by a reservoir. Those skilled in the art will appreciate that the fluid storage 84 may also be provided by any other type of storage device.

Operation of the power generation system 52 is now described in greater detail. More particularly, the power generation system 52 is preferably a closed system. More specifically, and with reference to FIG. 5, the fluid is preferably pumped through the inlet pipe 64 into the inlet 60 of the housing 58. Thereafter, the fluid passes through the channels 70 of the solar collection members 68. Upon reaching a specific temperature, the fluid exits the channels 70 of the solar collection members 68, into the outlet pipe 66. The fluid then exits the housing 58 through the outlet 62 at a warmed temperature. More specifically, the fluid is preferably super heated upon exiting the fluid warming device 56.

The super heated fluid is used to rotate the turbine 54 of the power generation system 52 to thereby generate electricity. The electricity that is produced by the turbine 54 is provided to the adjacent structure 18. After the fluid is used by the turbine 54, it is returned to the inlet pipe 64 at a cooled temperature. Thereafter, the process starts over again as the cooled fluid is pumped back into the fluid warming device 56 through the inlet pipe 64. The fluid warming device 56 may include a plurality of headers (not shown) so that as the fluid reaches a certain temperature, the headers may re-direct the fluid to bypass channels into the outlet pipe 66 and thereafter to the turbine 54.

The power generation system 52 of the present invention greatly enhances energy conservation efforts. More specifically, the power generation system 52 greatly decreases costs associated with generating electricity. In other words, the power generation system 52 replaces typical energy sources used to rotate turbines 54, i.e., steam generation, coal, oil, etc., with an abundant source of energy, i.e., the sun.

A method aspect of the invention is for generating power. The method includes warming a fluid using the fluid warming device 56, and introducing the warm fluid to the turbine 54 of the power generation system 52 to rotate the turbine.

Another method aspect of the present invention is a method of doing business. More particularly, the method may include installing an energy transfer system 12 or a power generation system 52 adjacent a structure 18. The method may also comprise receiving a percentage of energy cost savings as payment for installation of the energy transfer system 12 or the power generation system 52.

Many modifications and other embodiments of the invention will come to the mind of one skilled in the art having the benefit of the teachings presented in the foregoing descriptions and the associated drawings. Therefore, it is understood that the invention is not to be limited to the specific embodiments disclosed, and that modifications and embodiments are intended to be included within the scope of the appended claims.

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Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US8328996 *Feb 27, 2011Dec 11, 2012St Germain Girard CharlesMethod and apparatus for desalinating water combined with power generation
US8567195 *Sep 20, 2011Oct 29, 2013Ocean Synergy LimitedDeep ocean energy system with full sea water air conditioning and utility waste heat utilization
US8674527May 19, 2011Mar 18, 2014Energy Cache, Inc.Apparatuses and methods for energy storage
US20110271505 *Feb 27, 2011Nov 10, 2011St Germain Girard CharlesMethod and apparatus for desalinating water combined with power generation
US20120091729 *Sep 20, 2011Apr 19, 2012Christopher Evan NashDeep ocean energy system with full sea water air conditioning and utility waste heat utilization
Classifications
U.S. Classification62/260, 165/45, 60/641.6
International ClassificationF28D3/00
Cooperative ClassificationF24J2/465, F03G7/04, F04D29/329, F24J2/242
European ClassificationF03G7/04, F04D29/32K8
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Owner name: COTHERM OF AMERICA CORPORATION,FLORIDA
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Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:JAGUSZTYN, TADEUSZ FRANK;HAY, DONALD JAMES;MURPHY, DONALD;SIGNING DATES FROM 20061027 TO 20061105;REEL/FRAME:020655/0444